There’s a funny thing about being told you can’t do something. It generally means that even if there was no prior desire to do aforementioned banned thing, you really want to do said thing now. Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what I can and can’t do! Except, uh, being told no/stop/don’t in many scenarios is perfectly valid and should be abided by. Especially when the person saying it is yourself, the thing in question is spending, and the reason is because it’s for your own good.
Since starting my shopping ban on October 24th, I want to spend ALL THE MONEY. Even with the woeful spending I had to do with my last minute move (for the moving truck, key deposits, mail forwarding, buying pizza and beer for the friends who helped) I still have a desire to spend some dough on fun stuff instead of lying low and licking my wounds.
Here is where many a “how not to shop” article or blog post would proceed with a point form list including the following: don’t step foot in the mall, don’t go on your favourite shopping site, block retailers from your email list, etc. To be honest, I feel like every one of these lists looks identical, leaving me both uninspired and unequipped to handle the very strong pangs of temptation. Yes, the basics should be mastered, but these are grade school building blocks and I’m trying to wrap my head around calculus.
So now we’ve established we already know the obvious, where is the inspiration to hold firm going to come from? What’s going to keep me going when I’ve had a bad day and I just want to have a delicious bowl of ramen from my favourite Japanese restaurant, or that pair of shoes I’ve been jonesing for when I feel I “need” some retail therapy?
I’ve decided that instead of “tips” to stop spending, I need an entire paradigm shift if I’m going to be successful. I have to think differently, and identify myself as a different kind of person – a person that doesn’t spend.
So instead of a “how not to spend” tip list, here are my guiding principles that remind me why I am no longer a Spender.
- Because the meal out will only make me feel great at that moment – and then that’s it. I love all things cuisine. I love eating, cooking, and fine gastronomy. I can however indulge that love at home, in my kitchen. There’s an itch I’m trying to scratch when I eat out. Trying the latest restaurants is a reprieve from boredom at that moment. A brilliant new restaurant is a sensory delight during the meal: smells, tastes and colours … and then guess what? The meal is over, and life is exactly the same. I still work at a job I hate, I still pine to retire super early and open up an air bnb on a beautiful Caribbean island, and I still have loads of debt – which I just added to with that meal! I need to truly realize that the more meals out – which solves a temporary need for escape – pushes me further and further away of living my dream of a permanent escape from the rat race and towards my dream life.
- Overall point: A meal out brings pleasure for a couple of hours, but pushes me further away from a ‘forever goal’ of retiring early.
- Because I don’t want to be that mindless consumer sheep. It’s not lost on me that billions of dollars are spent convincing us to shell out money for every tiny facet, experience, and moment of our lives. I don’t need a eureka moment, I don’t need to be enlightened – I know this. However faith without works is dead, my friends, and all the knowledge in the world means diddly squat when I’m still buying trendy tops or spending $12 on a cocktail because the bar is “cool.” My money is the physical manifestation of the life force I traded in to reach my corporation’s end goals. I spend most of my waking hours working at something I don’t like – giving my life force for someone else’s end game – to turn around and hand it to yet another corporation to help them on their fiscal trajectory?!? Am I mad?? This madness stops here. I will no longer blindly follow the pack.
- Overall point: I’ve worked to buy things, and the purchase of those things keeps me enslaved to working. Marketers, corporations – everyone else but my true self – want me (well, all of us) to be enslaved to this cycle. My life energy and it’s physical manifestation into money will now will be directed to myself, my loved ones, and meaningful causes I believe in.
- Because being trendy/fashionable/stylish will not bring any genuine happiness or meaning into my life. As much as I want to berate myself for ever having cared about “style,” I want to remind myself – and you, dear reader – that billions are spent on bombarding our subconscious minds with images of who we should be and what we should look like. To draw on the last list item above, I know what the game is, and I know this doesn’t bring any lasting happiness. If anything, it makes you broke, which makes you bloody miserable. Fashion is designed to be a moving target; to follow it we must constantly chase it, emptying our pockets more and more just to keep up. I’m throwing in the towel; I’m out of this idiotic race. I’ve gone broke being the fashion plate, and you know what? Compliments feel good for about 5 seconds tops. My debt, however, has kept me awake at night for years. Peace out, fashion. I’m so done with you.
- Overall point: Spending money to be on trend is the most inane way to burn it. Vapid at its core, it does not bring any form of genuine happiness. From now on, I’m solely using my money to create my dream life for me and my loved ones, which will bring genuine and meaningful joy.
And that’s it! I wanted to eschew lists of rules in favour of a short set of principles. These are my guiding reminders that are specifically targeted at my particular pain points; principles that sum up the essence of why I’ve spent money in the past and why I will not continue on that course. My goal is to have them remind me of who I truly want to become: someone that doesn’t need tips on how not to succumb to spending, because I now only use money to bolster my life in more meaningful – ergo, frugal – ways.